One Of The Prominent Character In Ramayana: Lord Hanuman

Lord Hanuman is one of the most popular and revered gods in the Hindu mythology. Popularly known as “monkey god”, he is a divine vanara with great strength. He is one of the prominent characters of the epic Ramayana and an ardent devotee of Lord Rama. He one among the seven Chiranjeevis (immortals) and both Lord Brahma’s and Indra’s boons are the two causes of his immortality. The mythic texts speak of him as the child of the Wind God Vayu and the princess Anjana. He is often referred as Anjaneya based on his mother’s name. Some other texts say that Anjana was married to the monkey chief Kesari. The couple prayed to Shiva for a son, and Hanuman was born to them from Shiva with the aid of the Wind God. Thus, Hanuman is also called as Vayuputhra (Wind's son) as well as Kesarinandan (Kesari's son). Apart from Ramayana, he is also mentioned in the epic Mahabharatha and Puranas. Hanuman is considered as an icon and role model by many. It is because of his strength, perseverance and devotion for Lord Ram. He possesses immense strength, keen intellect and a deep knowledge in Vedas and other branches of learning. He is also an epitome of morality and self-pride.

The most important trait of Lord Hanuman is his strength. He inherits his might and speed from his father. He is also a shapeshifter who can increase and decrease his body size at will.

According to Valmiki's Ramayana, one morning in his childhood, Hanuman was hungry and saw the rising red coloured sun. Hanuman mistook the sun to be a ripe fruit and soared up in the air to grab it after expanding his size. Indra, the king of Devas, seeing an enormous figure moving towards the sun as if to swallow it whole, was alarmed and threw his thunderbolt at Hanuman. It hit Hanuman on his jaw and he fell to the earth as dead with a broken jaw. His father Vayu became upset and withdrew from the earth. This created havoc in the earth and lord Shiva was prompted to revive Hanuman. The gods including Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and Agni granted boons to Hanuman and these boons collectively made him an immortal, with special powers and strengths. He got the name “Hanuman”, which means ‘man bearing broken chin’ after this incident.

The second story is from Mahabharata. Bhima, the second Pandava prince and the son of Vayu was as powerful as the wind. He was proud of his strength and considered him as the mightiest person in the world. He was once wandering in a large banana grove and saw an old monkey sleeping with its tail lying across the grove path. Bhima ordered the monkey to move its tail but the monkey replied that it was very weak. He also requested the prince to lift it gently aside. The impatient and proud Bhima bent to pick the monkey up by its tail, planning to fling it across the banana trees. However, to his surprise, he could not move even an inch of the tail. It became obvious that the monkey was none other than Hanuman, the mightiest being on earth. 'Strength should not be trifled with; neither should it be something to be vain of” was what Hanuman told the humbled Bhima. As a mark of love and affection to Bhima, Hanuman approved to reside on the flag of Bhima's younger brother Arjuna’s chariot. This is why Arjuna is also called as Kapidhwaj (ape bannered).

Hanuman is also known for his extreme devotion and love for his master Lord Rama. After the pattabhishekam of Shri Rama, all their well-wishers, helpers and friends were being rewarded with riches. When it was Lord Hanuman’s turn, Mata Sita removed one of her costliest pearl chains and gave it to Lord Hanuman. When he got the chain, he broke it, and started looking at the pearls one by one and throwing them away. This confused Devi Sita and offended the subjects of Ayodhya They started yelling at him and asking him why he was showing no respect for the Maharani’s gift. Hanuman said that anything without Lord Rama’s name or Lord Rama himself was useless even if it was a costly chain, and continued throwing away the pearls one by one. This angered the subjects even more and told him that Ramanama was not written on his body. To this he replied, “every Inch of my body has Rama in it. My heart and soul is made of Rama”. The subjects jeered and taunted him again and said, “How do we know Lord Rama is in your heart and soul? We cannot see them.” Lord Hanuman tore open his chest and there in his torn chest were Lord Rama, Devi Sita and Lakshman. Everybody including Lord Rama and Lady Sita were in tears as they witnessed Hanuman’s selfless love and devotion for Lord Rama.

Hanuman’s utmost devotion for Rama is also evident when he takes up the giant task of bringing Mrutasanjeevani from Dhronagiri hills. The story goes like this: Lord Rama and his brother Laxman, along with their army of monkeys were fighting the war with Ravana and his army. Laxman while fighting in the war gets injured by a powerful weapon hurled by Indrajit, Ravana’s son. Laxman becomes unconscious as the injury was almost fatal. Upon hearing that only the magical herb Sanjeevani has the power to cure Laxmana, Lord Rama instructs Hanuman get the Sanjeevani herb from the mountain Sumeru in the Himalayans. Hanuman, with his strength and mystical powers, goes to the Mountain Sumeru. After reaching there, he fails to identity the herb. So, he lifts the whole mountain and brings it to the battlefield. Sanjeevani herb is then administered to Laxman, and thus Laxman regains consciousness.

Another quality that we can imbibe from Hanuman is his humility and sacrificial mentality. Hanuman went to meet Lord Ravana to ask him to release Sita. To deliberately humiliate him, Ravana did not offer a seat to Hanuman. Instead of feeling insulted, Hanuman grew his tail, made a seat from it and sat on it. This seat was taller than Ravana's throne. This enraged Ravana who was insulted by Hanuman's behaviour and ordered his slaves to set fire to Hanuman's tail. As they did that, Hanuman jumped from building to building, setting them all on fire. Soon the whole of Lanka was burning and people were terrified. Sita came to know about this and prayed to lord Agni, the god of fire. Lord Agni made sure that even though Hanuman's tail was burning, he wouldn't feel any pain. He also made sure that Sita was unhurt and safe. He was ready to hurt himself for the good of Rama and Sita.

Another characteristic of Hanuman is his utmost humility. Despite being the most powerful vanara in Sugriva's army, that son of the Wind God was most humble of his prowess. He also had great respect for women. Hanuman had great respect for women, his meetings with Sita and demoness in guise Surasa validates this fact. Hanuman addressed them as mothers and therefore respected them as his own mother.

Last but not least, Hanuman is described in the epic as one of extremely pleasant visage, perfect diction, elegant speech, and faultless manners. He is also described as being knowledgeable in the three Vedas. The Puranas also tell us that Hanuman was taught the Vedas and all other branches of learning by Sun God himself, Surya. He learnt his lessons by trotting alongside the Sun's chariot as it moved across the sky.

07 July 2022
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